Rare Antique Qing Dynasty Chinese Porcelain Blue and Yellow Garden Drum Stool With Epic Scenes of Immortals
A magnificent work of art created during the reign of Emperor Guangxu near the end of the Qing Dynasty, circa 1880. Likely made for export to the Malacca Straits region for the Peranakan / Straits Chinese culture. This is the most highly decorated piece we have seen (and probably ever will). From our modern perspective it is hard to comprehend the amount of time, energy, and talent that went into making this piece.
The form is a traditional hexagonal garden stool with convex sides and an openwork design at the top. Unique, whimsical dog-face openwork handles adorn opposite sides. The piece was made utilizing the ancient slab construction technique. The decoration was achieved by a complex process involving low relief carving, incising, and finally the application of the rich colorful glazes and enamels primarily yellow, blue, emerald green and turquoise. This would have involved many separate kiln firings under very controlled conditions.
The middle portion of the body is painted in a lush wetland or marsh scene with swimming gold fish and orange dragonflies over a rare lotus-flower-blue glaze. Over this background are painted two scenic medallions with fancy shaped borders in pale pink on opposite sides. One scene depicts a group Immortals or Gods in the clouds surrounded by towering mountain peaks some riding mythical animals including a phoenix, qilin, horse, and a spotted deer. The scene on the opposite side portrays a gathering of nobles or gentlemen and ladies enjoying drinks in a garden enclosed by a balustrade overlooking a magical mountain scene.
An attractive blue scenic band at the base portrays another wetland or marsh scene with hovering orange dragonflies and colourful mandarin ducks swimming in turquoise water. A decorative band at the top includes intricate geometric designs interspersed with little traditional Chinese scenic landscaped vignettes (Shan Soi).
The top painted with another traditionally Chinese scene portraying groups of scholars gathered at different levels looking towards each other, overlooking an expansive mountain village scene.
The stool has been very well preserved over the years. It has no damage or repair. Extremely minor enamel loss is seen in places. Expected firing flaws are seen around the bottom rim and on the bottom slab. These flaws are inconsequential and do not effect the integrity or artistic merit of the piece. There were no hallmarks or reign markings found.
17 1/2" tall x about 13" diameter.